THE BEGINNINGS OF A PARISH
The parish predates the present church building by seventeen years. In the early 1870's the property on Swinton Road was purchased by the Western District of the Scottish Catholic Church to answer the needs of the growing Catholic population of the Baillieston district, which was part of Saint Paul's Parish, Shettleston. A barn was adapted to serve as a church on Sundays and a school during the week.
The Church and Presbytery in 1943.
The Presbytery today.
In 1876 it was separated from Saint Paul's, and by 1880 a dynamic Dutch priest, Father Peter Terken, had constructed a two-storey building church-cum-school dedicated to Saint Bridget.
Father Peter Terken, Parish Priest 1879-1914.
The miners and farm-labourers who made up the congregation began saving for a more worthy Church, and their dream was realised when in 1893 the church of Saint Bridget, designed like scores of others in the Archdiocese of Glasgow by the famous firm of Pugin & Pugin, was opened at a ceremony presided over by Archbishop Eyre. In 1947 it became part of the newly-created Diocese of Motherwell.
A rear view of the Presbytery and the Church.
Today two priests, Mgr John McIntyre and Fr Francis McGachey, serve about 1300 families who form the Catholic community in the Baillieston area.
SOME NOTABLE FEATURES OF SAINT BRIDGET'S CHURCH
Externally Saint Bridget's is very similiar to many other Pugin-designed churches like Saint Augustine's, Coatbridge or Saint Patrick's, Anderston, though modest in size and without the baptistery extension and pinnacles of larger churches.
A pale golden sandstone from Auchinlea was preferred to the deep red of most Pugin churches, possibly to chime with the pinkish local stone of the parish house. The double entrance is typical, a practical feature from the days when Sunday celebrations were crowded and followed each other at hourly intervals. The statue of the church's patron in its niche above the entrances is also a standard feature.
The exterior of the Church today.
A view of the front lawn. The church gardens are cared for by Tommy Higgins, Michael Quigley and Fr. McGachey.
A view from the front steps of the Church.
A side view of the Church and part of the gardens.
The front of the Church before the addition of the disabled access ramp in 2001.
The interior is naturally more intimate in dimension than those built to a larger design, and this, together with the light and unfussy decoration of the church of the present day gives it a particular attractiveness.
The Presidential Chair and Lectern.
It takes an effort to imagine the pillars in natural stone, tessellated tiles where there is now red carpeting, the pulpit to the left within the seating area, and the railed-off sanctuary with its pinnacled reredos behind the elevated shelf-like altar with its marble-framed tabernacle.
Within living memory the walls and ceiling at least of the sanctuary would have been covered with strong colours and gold Gothic transfer-work, much beloved of the Victorians. A plainer treatment was indicated when in the years following the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) the sanctuary was re-ordered to accomodate changes in liturgy.
The Church as it was in 1943.
The sanctuary in 1943.
The church and sanctuary circa 1980. Notice the following differences in comparison with today's decoration: the wallpaper on the back wall of the sanctuary, the cross behind the Triumphant Christ, the tiled sanctuary floor, the position of the pulpit and the creedance table, the raised platform for the altar and the location of the altar, the positon of the presidential chair. Canon Daniel Hennessy is the Principal Celebrant at a Wedding Mass.
Another view of the same Wedding Mass.
The sanctuary around 1980. Notice the position of the presidential chair - it occupies the place where the tabernacle stands today. Also worthy of note is the altar table without the central marble pannel which it has today. In the photograph are Bishop Joseph Devine, present Bishop of Motherwell, the late Bishop Francis Thompson, Bishop Emeritus of Motherwell, and the late Canon Daniel Hennessy, former Parish Priest of Saint Bridget's. The Master of Ceremonies on the righthand side is Father (now Monsignor) Jack Burns, a retired Parish Priest Motherwell Diocese who resides today at Saint Bride's Parish, Bothwell.
The sanctuary today.
The sanctuary decorated during the Easter Season.
A simplified altar was positioned so that the celebrant faced the people, a place for proclaiming the Word of God and for preaching was established within the sanctuary, the marble communion rails were removed, the reserved Sacrament given its own chapel - the Sacred Heart altar, and the chair for the presiders positioned where the previous altar had been.
Quiet time of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. The Church as it is today.
The wooden carving of a robed, triumphant Christ on a plain wooden cross, dominated the back wall. (Later as a concession to popular piety, used to the central tabernacle, the Sacrament returned to the sanctuary and the chair was positioned to the left of the altar. The wooden cross was removed and the Christ-figure began to be called, rather confusingly 'the Risen Christ'.)
On the whole the re-ordering has been successful, using in a restrained way marble and wood elements from the original altar furnishings.
THE SIDE ALTARS
The Sacred Heart Altar.
Happily the side-altars retain the general appearance they had in the early twentieth century. They have kept their fine marble surrounds. The stained glass dates from Canon Rooney's time (1942-51) - the product like the Creation window of the John Hardman Studios - and the mosaics seem to have been added in the time of Canon John Sheridan (1958-61). The windows of the left-hand side altar celebrate devotion to the 'Sacred Heart of Jesus', a feature of Counter-Reformation piety which laid emphasis on the Christian's response in love and sacrifice to the self-sacrificing love of Christ, symbolised by the image of his heart. Around the central figure ('I come to bring fire upon the earth') are grouped saints and visionaries like Saint Francis de Sales and Saint Margaret Mary who made this devotion their own, with the apostle John, the beloved disciple of Jesus. The rather humdrum mosaics represent the connected themes of Jesus' blessing of the children and his humble birth at Bethlehem.
The Lady Altar is home to the Baptismal Font. Note the Holy Oils displayed on the left of the altar.
This is matched in the Lady Chapel by stained glass representing Mary as 'the Immaculate Conception' surrounded by members of the faithful, and mosaics of the Annunciation and the Assumption. Elsewhere are recorded some of the Praises of Mary - 'Seat of Wisdom', 'Tower of David', 'Ark of the Covenant'.
Part of the mosaics which adorn the Lady Altar.
The Lady Chapel has also acted as Baptistery since emphasis began to be placed on the public communal aspect of this sacrament.
The Baptismal Font in the Lady Altar.
The stained-glass window in the left aisle near the side entrance, on the other hand, is a sparkling work by a contemporary artist, Shona McInnes, depicting Saint Bridget and Saint Columba, with all sorts of detail relating to the many legends attached to their names.
The statue of the Virgin Mary, the nineteenth-century Saint Therese of Lisieux, our patroness Saint Bridget, Saint Joseph, and the medieval Franciscan Saint Anthony of Padua are of little artistic merit, but are reminders of that Communion of Saints to which we belong and which provide us with models of holiness and friends we can ask to intercede for us.
The preparations for a live broadcast of Mass from Saint Bridget's on STV to celebrate the centennary of the parish. Bishop Joseph Devine was the main celebrant.
The preparations before the broadcast continue.
THE CLERGY OF SAINT BRIDGET'S
Rev. Thomas Lonergan - 1876-1878
Rev. George McBrearty - 1878-1879
Rev. Richard Edgecombe - 1878-1879
Rev. Peter Terken - 1879-1914
Rev. Daniel Horgan - 1914-1926
Rev. Octavius Clays - 1926-1928
Rev. Thomas Healy - 1928-1929
Rev. Daniel Collins - 1929-1933
Rev. John Tennant - 1934-1941
Rev. John McCrory - 1941-1942
Rev. John Rooney - 1942-1951
Rev. Alexander McBride - 1951-1958
Rev. Dr. John Sheridan - 1958-1961
Rev. William White - 1961-1962
Very Rev. John Canon McCrory - 1962-1968
Rev. Bernard Mahoney - 1968-1975
Very Rev. Daniel Canon Hennessy - 1975-1995
Rev. Mons. John McIntyre - 1995-
We hope in time to add a short biography of each of the priests who has served in Saint Bridget's over the years. The details listed below some of the photographs are taken from the Golden Jubliee Commemorative Booklet of 1943.
Rev. John Horgan, 1914-1916
Reverend Daniel Horgan was appointed to succeed Father Terken in April, 1914. The choice proved an admirable one. It could not have been an easy task to take the place of a priest who had guided the destiny of St. Bridget’s over thirty-five years. Father Horgan brought all his energy and zeal to bear in his work. During his years in Baillieston he installed the Pipe Organ and erected the beautiful Stations of the Cross [which were removed from the Church in th 1960s]. His ambition was to place a High Altar in the Church worthy of such a structure and he inaugurated a fund for such a purpose. He did not have the pleasure of seeing the realisation of his plan as he was transferred to Saint Joseph’s, Tollcross, in 1926. Later Father Horgan went to Saint Charles’, Kelvinside, and died on 1st March, 1937.
Monsignor Octavius Clays, Parish Priest 1926-1928
Saint Peter’s College, Bearsden, had claimed the best years of Monsignor Clays’ life as a Professor of Moral Theology: he was a sick man when he came to Baillieston, but his burning zeal overcame physical disability and he laboured at all times to instil into the people a love for the ceremonies of the Church. The effects of his few years in Baillieston were lasting. Monsignor Clays was transferred to Wishaw and died on 17th November, 1928.
Canon Daniel Collins, Parish Priest 1929-1933
The last years of a strenuous priestly life of the Very Reverend Daniel Canon Collins were spent in Baillieston. The will to do things was still with him when he came to the parish in 1929, and he undertook and completed the work of erecting the High Altar, begun by Monsignor Clays. Canon Collins is the only priest who actually died in the parish house. God called him to himself on 2nd March, 1934.
Doctor John Tennant, Parish Priest 1934-1941
Blairs College, Aberdeen, had claimed all the years of Doctor Tennant’s life as a priest until he came to Baillieston to succeed Canon Collins. He lost no time in entering into his work as a missionary priest, and his chief concern was the Sodalities. The property of Saint Bridget’s was extended and the acquisition of what was once known as Saint Patrick’s Hall, Camp Road. The good wishes of the people of Baillieston went with Doctor Tennant when he was transferred to Saint Ninian’s, Kirkintilloch, in the August of 1941.
Canon John Rooney, Parish Priest 1942-1951
John Rooney was born at Glasgow on July 12th 1898. He was educated at Saint Mungo’s Academy, and studied for the Priesthood at Saint Mary’s College, Blairs, Aberdeen and Saint Peter’s College, Bearsden. His ordination to the Priesthood took place on May 1st 1924 at Saint Andrew’s Cathedral, by Archbishop McIntosh.
He was first appointed to Our Lady, Star of the Sea, Saltcoats. Eight years later he was transferred to Saint Margaret’s, Airdrie, and after two years went to Saint Joseph’s, Glenboig. His next appointment was to Saint Mirin’s Cathedral, Paisley.
In 1942 he came to Baillieston as administrator, and very soon afterwards became Parish Priest. Here he confirmed his powers of organisation, practical drive and high artistic taste. His pride and joy in Baillieston was the installation of the Lady Chapel and the Sacred Heart Chapel, followed by the complete artistic redecoration of the whole church interior.
Aware of the spiritual needs of the outlying district Bargeddie, he established a Mass centre, purchased a site for a future church and house, and played a leading role in the building of the new church, Saint Kevin’s.
Around this time he was one of the few involved in establishing the Capuchin Franciscan Friars at Greyfriars in Uddingston. Although deeply involved in the pastoral work of Saint Bridget’s, he found time to act as Religious Examiner in the Archdiocese, and later in the new Diocese of Mothewell. When the Diocese was erected in 1948, he became secretary to the Diocesan Finance Board and played an important part in securing sites for many new parishes.
Keenly aware of the problems of youth in the early post-war years and being largely responsible for a flourishing youth club in Baillieston, he was appointed Diocesan Organiser for Youth Work. He was mainly responsible for the inauguration of the Lanarkshire Catholic Youth Festival.
Transferred to Saint Bride’s, Cambuslang in 1951, here with careful planning and untiring energy he set about the redecoration of the church. For six years, although deeply committed to the life of the parish, he continued to be involved in educational and diocesan affairs. The education of Catholic children and the role of Catholic schools were ever in his mind, and for several years he was Diocesan Representative on the Educational Committee of the County of Lanark.
In 1952 he was appointed Canon and Secretary to the newly erected Cathedral Chapter of Motherwell Diocese over which he latterly presided as Provost. In 1957 he was transferred to Saint Columbkille’s, Rutherglen, where he spent the last 17 years of his life. Immersed in the life of a large parish, he instilled into his flock those high religious ideals which he himself held throughout his life. About this time he was Organiser of Pilgrimages to Carfin.
Soon his ideals, thoughts and drive went beyond his parochial duties. In 1965 he became a founder member, administrator and National Chairman of the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF). Through his zeal and dedication, SCIAF earned international recognition, and it is estimated that he was instrumental in sending half a million pounds to the relief of the world’s poor. He was also a founder member of the Scottish Justice and Peace Commission.
Taken ill while on holiday in London, he died suddenly on Sunday June 9th, by a remarkable coincidence, the feast of Saint Columbkille.
He was an outstanding churchman and a perfectionist in everything he did. God’s work was his life, and it had to be done well. Nothing but the best was good enough for God’s house, and with his deep artistic sense he brought dignity and liturgical awareness to each of the three churches in which he was pastor.
The attendance at his Requiem Mass in Saint Columbkille’s Church on 14th June, included a Cardinal, two archbishops, five bishops, priests, civic dignitaries and parishioners. It was a fitting tribute to an outstanding priest. He is buried in Saint Ketigern’s Cemetery, Lambhill.
Doctor John Sheridan, Parish Priest 1958-1961, welcoming Bishop James Donald Scanlan, Bishop of Motherwell, before a Confirmation ceremony.
Father William White, Parish Priest 1961-1962
Canon John McGrory, Parish Priest 1962-1968
John McCrory was born at Partick in 1899 and was educated at Saint Peter’s school and Saint Mungo’s Academy. In 1913 he began his studies for the Priesthood at Saint Mary’s College, Blairs, Aberdeen. His studies were interrupted with the outbreak of the First World War, during which time he served with the Irish Guards. After demobilisation in the early months of 1919, he resumed his studies at Saint Peter’s College, Bearsden, in the company of many others who had served in the Forces.
He was ordained to the Priesthood on May 1st 1924 by Archbishop Donald Mackintosh in Saint Andrew’s Cathedral, Glasgow. His first appointment was to that same Cathedral, at that time a busy parish. After a short period there the skin ailment which was destined to afflict him all his days made itself evident. He was transferred to Saltcoats in the hope that he might find better health away from the city. This proved to be of no avail and he was transferred to the Boys’ Approved School at Bishopbriggs. His various appointments were interrupted by periods of treatment.
He joined the teaching staff of Saint Mary’s College, Blairs, Aberdeen, and while he continued to suffer, he found great satisfaction and happiness during these few years there. Among his other activities at this time, he edited two issues of the Scottish Catholic Directory, those for 1941 and 1942.
Father McCrory’s next appointment was Saint Bridget’s, Baillieston, as parish priest in 1941. After six months, he was forced to relinquish this post and go to the south of England to seek further treatment. He returned to Bothwell and again a period of retirement became necessary. Saint Aloysius’ Chapelhall, was destined to be the parish in which he found a measure of good health. While in Chapelhall, he was appointed to the Cathedral Chapter of Motherwell Diocese. It was thought that the Canon’s health was sufficiently improved to appoint him to Saint Bridget’s once again, but after a few years he found it impossible to continue and he finally retired to Brighton where he could receive the medical attention which after years of trial and error he found to be the most beneficial. He died on July 13th 1972. He came to love the Sussex Downs, and it is there that he lies buried.
While it could be said that Canon McCrory was never allowed to give of his best on account of the cross he was asked to bear, nevertheless his outstanding qualities of intellect and character were very much in evidence. He was widely read and his command of English could be seen in his sermons and his public utterances. The affliction which was his constant companion never impaired his sparkling humour. The bright exterior concealed deep suffering which was borne with great fortitude.
Father Bernard Mahoney, Parish Priest 1968-1975
Canon Daniel Hennessy, Parish Priest 1975-1995
Daniel Hennessy was born in Limerick, Ireland, on November 13th, 1923. He trained for the Priesthood at Saint John’s Seminary, Waterford, and was ordained for the Diocese of Motherwell on June 6th 1948.
Upon his arrival in Scotland he was appointed to Saint Patrick’s, Coatbridge. In 1948, Saint Patrick’s was in poor shape, and the condition of the parish hall seemed beyond redemption, due to the lack of proper maintenance over the years. That was a challenge for the young Father Hennessy and the more senior assistant by a few years, Canon Anthony McGurk. Virtually single-handed, they worked a miracle by rebuilding the hall, making it a vital centre for the social life of the place for over the next 20 years. It was an astonishing achievement, indicative of the commitment of each of them to the service of the young in that year of the Church’s life.
After sterling service in Coatbridge, he became assistant in the young parish of Bernadette’s, Motherwell, in 1955. He enjoyed much success there, not least in making friends who would be of great support to him in the evening of his life.
He was appointed parish priest of Strathaven in 1964. But his time in Strathaven was short, from 1964 to 1968. A different challenge was to face him over the next seven years, as parish priest of Saint Benedict’s, Easterhouse, one of the most demanding charges for a priest to this day.
He was appointed to Saint Bridget’s in 1975. He revelled in this parish, making the church, the hall and the presbytery a kind of “jewel in the crown” among the parishes of our Diocese. It was ever his intention to have this parish in terms of its physical condition, second to none. He was equally anxious that its special status would be no less pre-eminent, being no less aware that Baillieston was a rapidly growing parish, a place new hosing estates of unprecedented proportions, as at least in modern times, in comparison with other places in the Diocese, with the exception of Saint Columba’s, Viewpark.
In the January of 1995 Canon Hennessy’s health deteriorated and he died on the 27th May that same year.
Monsignor John McIntyre, Parish Priest 1995 -
John McIntyre was born at Airdrie on November 12th 1937. He attended All Saints Primary School, Coatdyke and Saint Aloysius' College, Glasgow. In 1955 he began his studies for the Priesthood at the Pontifical Scots College, Rome, and gained Licenciates in Philosophy and Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University. He was ordained to the Priesthood at the Basilica of Saint John Lateran on December 23rd 1961.
Upon his return to Scotland Father McIntyre served as assistant priest at Saint Monica's, Coatbridge for one year before moving in 1963 to Saint John the Baptist's, Uddingston. During the five years he resided in Uddingston he complete an Master Of Arts degree in English and Latin, as well as a Diploma in Education at Glasgow University.
Father McIntyre served on the staff of Saint Vincent's College, Langbang for one year in 1968, before moving to Saint Mary's College, Blairs in 1969 where he taught English, Latin and Photography. In 1984 he was appointed Rector of Saint Mary's College. Father McIntyre returned to Motherwell Diocese in 1986 to become Parish Priest of Saint Bride's, East Kilbride. In 1989 he was named Rector of the Pontifical Scots College, Rome. In 1992 he was made a Prelate of Honour. He has served since 1982 on the National Heritage Commission of the Catholic Church in Scotland.
Monsignor McIntyre became Parish Priest of Saint Bridget's, Baillieston in 1995.
Rev. Gilbert Hartman - 1879-1893
Rev. William Orr - 1897-1903
Rev. Eugene O'Connor - 1903-1910
Rev. Bartholomew Flynn - 1910-1915
Rev. Michael Hackett - 1915-1919
Rev. Thomas Mangan - 1915-1920
Rev. William McMullan - 1920-1925
Rev. Edward Douglas - 1924-1924
Rev. Michael Sweeney - 1925-1933
Rev. Patrick Heaney - 1929-1930
Rev. Charles Burns - 1933-1941
Rev. William Duddy - 1939-1940
Rev. Patrick Brady - 1940-1943
Rev. John Moss - 1943-1957
Rev. George Fryer - 1943-1947
Rev. Francis McFarlane - 1945-1947
Rev. Dr. Hugh Cahill - 1951-1952
Rev. Michael Corry - 1952-1955
Rev. Francis Kelly - 1955-1961
Rev. Herbert Flack - 1958-1965
Rev. Denis Garrity - 1961-1962
Rev. Michael O'Leary - 1962-1968
Rev. John Givens - 1965-1965
Rev. Laurence Kenny - 1966-1969
Rev. Brian Donnelly - 1968-1970
Rev. Eamonn Sweeney - 1969-1975
Rev. William Sproule - 1975-1982
Rev. James Nicol - 1982-1985
Rev. Hugh Kelly - 1985-1986
Rev. Thomas Brady - 1986-1990
Rev. William Nolan - 1990-1994
Rev. Matthew Despard - 1994-1997
Rev. Francis McGachey - 1997-
Canon William Duddy, Assistant Priest 1939-1940
Father John Moss, Assistant Priest 1943-1957
Father Francis Kelly, Assistant Priest 1955-1961
Father Herbert Flack, Assistant Priest 1958-1965
Father Denis Garrity, Assistant Priest 1961-1962
Father Laurence Kenny Assistant Priest 1966-1969
Canon Hennessy with Father William Nolan, 1990-1994
Father Francis McGachey 1997 -
Francis McGachey was born on 5th January 1973. He completed his primary education at Saint Barbara's School, Muirhead and his secondary education at Saint Ambrose High School, Coatbridge. In 1989 he began his studies for the Priesthood at the Royal Scots College, Salamanca, Spain. There he attended the Pontifical University of Salamanca and gained two degrees: an STB (Bachelor of Sacred Theology) and an STL (Sacred Theology Licenciate) which he completed at the end of his final year, having specialised in Sacramental Theology.
He was ordained to the Priesthood on 9th July 1997 in his home parish of Saint Barbara's, Muirhead. Father McGachey took up his appointment at Saint Bridget's on 30th August 1997. In December 2000 he succeeded Father Colin Hughes as Chaplain of Saint Ambrose High School, Coatbridge. He was appointed Diocesan Master of Ceremonies and Director of the Motherwell Diocesan Liturgy Agency in 2003.
After Father John Moss (1943-1957), he is the second longest serving Assistant Priest in the history of Saint Bridget's parish.
SAINT BRIDGET'S SCHOOL
Taken from the Golden Jubilee Commemorative Booklet, 1943
Our school began on 5th January, 1847, and from that day until now there has been a succession of teachers who deserved all the praise we could give them. Prior to 1918, to be a Catholic teacher required a vocation to educate Catholic children and ground them in the Faith with no hope of adequate remuneration or prospect of promotion. There were always valiant men and women ready to face this task and leave the reward to Almighty God. Baillieston has been blessed in its teachers.
Miss Tully was the first Headmistress. In 1880 Miss Catherine Grey came to take her place and when she left in 1887 the number on the roll of the school had reached 214. During the next ten years Miss Mary Foster was in charge. Late and early she worked to further the interests of her pupils, and many speak of her with gratitude even today. She became Mrs Stanley and left Baillieston, but was destined to be a teacher until within a few days of her death eleven years ago in Saltcoats. It is interesting that she should have been attended in her last moments by Father Rooney, who was an assistant there at the time. To the end Baillieston was a vivid and happy memory.
Miss Elizabeth McColl accepted the post of Headmistress in 1901, and all she said and did, can be an interesting subject of conversation in almost any Catholic home in Baillieston. After all, she taught the parents of most of our present-day school children. During the days of her well-earned retirement, Miss McColl lived at Preston, and died at Wishaw, 8th June, 1941.
Back row from left to right: Miss Grant, Miss Durcan, Mr Docherty, Miss Roache, Mr Hendry (Janitor) Miss Tombey, ? , Mrs McDermott, Miss Connolly. Middle row from left to right: Miss Kelly, Fr Sweeney (who returned to Ireland), Mrs Flannigan (mother of Mgr. Philip Flannigan, a son of the Parish, and Priest of Motherwell Diocese), Mr McGregor (Headteacher and father of Mrs Margaret Coogans and Miss Helen McGregor parishioners of Saint Bridget's today), Mrs McIlhatton, Fr. Joseph Heaney, Mrs Coogans. Front row left to right: Miss Urquhart, Miss Duffy, ?.
Mr Charles McGregor came to Baillieston in 1927 as the first Headmaster of Saint Bridget’s, and it is to be hoped that the years to come will prove him to be the first of a long line of illustrious Catholic Headmasters. Certainly the beginning was good, and we are happy to number Mr McGregor amongst our parishioners although he has long since been promoted to the Headmastership of Saint Mary’s, Hamilton. His years in the school are remembered, especially because of the standard which was reached by the children in the rendering of Church Music.
Mr James Hoey carried on the tradition which Mr McGregor had established when he was appointed in 1932. In 1937 our present Headmaster, Mr Joseph Mullen, came to Baillieston and we wish him and his staff long years to advance our children in all things, but especially in the things of God.
A DESCRIPTION OF SAINT BRIDGET'S CHURCH IN 1894
The Catholic Directory of 1894, page 233, reads as follows: “Chronicle of Events, 1893. Opening of the New Church dedicated to Saint Bridget, at Baillieston, near Glasgow”.
On Sunday, 24th September, 1893, this beautiful Church, the pride of this small colliery town was opened for public worship. Erected from plans prepared by Messrs. Pugin and Pugin, of London, in the Early Decorated Style, and built by Messrs. John Devlin and Son, Glasgow, the building is 100 feet long and 54 feet broad, while the height from the cross on east and west gables is 63 feet.
The Church consists of nave, chancel and aisles. The building is divided into five bays, and is lighted at the east end by a beautiful rose window, 14 feet in diameter, and five-light windows, surmounted on lovely tracery stone work, at the west. The clerestory is lighted by ten three-light windows, with four single light windows in the sanctuary, with two lights, centre lintel and tracery. The aisles have five three-light windows on the south and two on the north, all with tracery.
There are two side chapels, which have one traceried window and two single-light ones each. These chapels are divided by two arches. The pillars are octagonal. The arches and string-courses are beautifully moulded, and are all of white Giffnock stone.
The roof is of pitch pine, ornamented, panelled, with bolt-heads etc. picked out in gold. Doors, screens, etc. are all pitch pine, stained and varnished. The flooring below the seats is of wood and the passages and sanctuary of tasselated tiles. The seats are of orme, have a smart appearance and are very comfortable. Heating is by low pressure hot-water pipes below the passages. The apparatus is of the latest design. The windows are glazed with pale cathedral glass, with deep amber borders.
The exterior of the Church is very fine. Standing on the slope of a hill it towers over all the other buildings in the neighbourhood and can be seen from considerable distance. In the front or west gable are two arched entrance doors from which the statue of the patron saint can be seen. On each side of these doors are small windows to light up the porch, and two light traceried windows give light to the aisles. Above the niche is the large five-light window, above named, with string-courses above and below. The stone is rock-faced, with hewn band and string-courses light grey in colour and is form Auchinlea quarry. The presbytery, a handsome building of two stories, erected in 1887, stands alongside the Church, and is connected by a corridor, in which there are two confessionals, to the sacristy.
A large school built in 1880, and until now used for church and school combined, stands in the background, and forms along with church and presbytery, a most compact and beautiful group of buildings.
On the day when the church was to be blessed and opened the village did not wear the quiet aspects of the Sunday. Carriages and people came from far and near. Long before the service began the edifice was filled with Catholics and Protestants. His Grace the Archbishop of Glasgow assisted at the throne, accompanied by the Very Revv. Cannons MacFarlane, Condon, Chisholm and McCay. The celebrant was Father Hilgers, assisted by Fathers Jansen and Murray. Father William Fraser was Master of Ceremonies. The Very Rev. Provost Maguire VG preached an eloquent sermon on the Gospel of the Day, in which he congratulated the people on the completion of this fine church.
PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE CENTENARY BROCHURE 1993
Members of the 12noon choir.
Canon Hennessy in the garden. In the distance is Saint Bridget's Primary School.
Canon Hennessy with members of the Catholic Men's Society.